Raiders remain undefeated with miracle finish
by Danny McDowell Sports Writer
The Midway Raiders hosted East Bladen Friday night in their first Four County Conference game. It was a game that evoked the names of miracle finishers Kirk Gibson, Christian Laetner, and Doug Flutie. The Raiders pulled off an unlikely comeback that will be talked about for years to come. They won the game 16-13.
East Bladen started the game with an onside kick which the Raiders took at the 50 yard line. Their first possession was highlighted by a 16 yard pass play to Andre Sankey by quarterback Taylor Calcutt. However, the drive stalled at the Eagles’ 2 yard line and East Bladen took over on downs.
The Eagles ate up the rest of the opening period with their possession, which took them to the Raider 25. As the second quarter started, Midway was on their own 19 yard line. At the 10:00 minute mark, Calcutt found Troy Spell for a 72 yard pass play and the games’ first score. The PAT was blocked.
East Bladen answered on their ensuing possession. Starting on their own 17, they drove to the Raider 1 yard line before Jaylan Herring punched it in for 6. After the PAT, the Eagles led 7-6 with 4:22 remaining in the first half. That would be the score at intermission.
The Eagles started the 3rd period on their 18 yard line. At the 6:45 mark, Herring scored from 2 yards out to give the visitors a 13-6 lead. The PAT was blocked by Midway.
Following the touchdown, East Bladen tried their third onside kick of the game, but the Raiders claimed possession.
The Raiders mounted a drive that took them from the East Bladen 49 to the 5, but the Eagle defense held and a sack on 4th down turned the ball over at the 20. Moments later, a fumble on the 26 put Midway back in business. On 4th and 16, to begin the 4th quarter, Raider kicker Junior Barajas nailed a 46 yard field goal to cut the deficit to 13-9.
The teams swapped fumbles a couple times as the final frame progressed. The Eagles seemed poised for another score with a 3rd and 2 on the 4 yard line. But the Raiders held and got the ball back for one last try, with less than 3 minutes to play.
The Raider offense was unsuccessful on 3 plays. With 1:11 remaining and no timeouts, the Raiders faced 4th and 8 from their own 6 yard line. Calcut found Sankey for a 94 yard play, which included several yards of bobble, and Midway posted a 16-13 lead. There was now 57.4 seconds left to play.
The Raider defense held and Midway had an improbable conference win.
“I was just thanking God,” attested Sankey. “I was thinking in my mind that whatever we do, we got to believe and do what we got to do. Calcutt threw the ball I caught it and I scored and I give all the praise to God.”
Sankey caught 3 passes for 132 yards. Calcutt completed 8 of 12 to compile 217 yards. Atlantis Warren was the leading Raider rusher with 36 yards. The Eagles ran 57 plays on offense, while the Raiders had 37. The visitors ran for 324 yards to 48 for Midway. East Bladen passed for 48.
Raider defensive leaders were Luke Clark and Justin Thompson with 10 tackles each.
“We got down in the red zone 3 or 4 times and didn’t get it in,” remarked Midway head coach Tommy Sloan. “They outplayed us. We turned it over too much. That play was a divine intervention.”
The Raiders improve to 5-0 overall and 1-0 in conference play. They will travel to Pender next week. East Bladen is 1-4 and will visit Clinton next Friday.
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